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May 28, 2024

Quarter-Finals recap - It's not how you start but how you finish

The biggest takeaway from the first eight postseason games confirms the saying that ‘It’s not how you start but how you finish’ that matters.

And here’s why:

Egypt’s Al Ahly SC registered the best record in the 2024 BAL regular, finishing with a 5-1 mark.

But the 2023 BAL winners were unable to win a single game in the postseason after losses to FUS Rabat and Al Ahly Ly.

Al Ahly SC saw their season cut short in the Quarter-Finals, and, as a result, won’t defend their BAL title.

Morocco’s FUS Rabat not only dominated the 2024 Kalahari Conference, finishing with a 3-1 mark, but they also headed to the Quarterfinals as the top-seeded team thanks to a classification round 89-78 win over then defending champions Al Ahly SC.

Against the odds, FUS Rabat fell short when it mattered most.

FUS Rabat’s 91-88 Quarterfinals loss to underdogs Cape Town Tigers reminded everyone why the BAL Playoffs have become anyone’s game.

The No.3 seeded team AS Douanes were cruising to the Semifinals after leading by as many as 20 points in the third quarter.

However, the Senegalese champions fell apart in the final seven minutes of the game against Petro de Luanda, who pulled off an incredible comeback to win 66-65.

AS Douanes left Kigali a few hours after the heartbroken loss to Petro.

US Monastir beat Petro de Luanda 70-67 at the buzzer in the classification round, but they too saw their season cut short in the Quarterfinals after a 92-88 loss to high-flying Rivers Hoopers.

Of the three conference (Kalahari, Nile and Sahara) winners, only Rivers Hoopers remain in contention for the 2024 BAL top prize.

The Port Harcourt-based team had a poor performance in the seeding round, losing to AS Douanes 63-57, but they responded with a massive four-point win against US Monastir, who were chasing their second BAL title since 2022.

Under new head coach Sergio Valdeolmillos, Petro de Luanda are yet to play at their prime, but after a 70-67 loss to US Monastir, the Angolan champions stunned AS Douanes in the Quarter-Finals to remain in contention for the BAL title.

Libya’s Al Ahly Ly, a team that only secured their postseason spot on the last day of the 2024 Nile Conference and ranked 7th in the postseason, is now the only one without a loss in the Playoffs.

But the most intriguing example of how highly competitive the BAL Playoffs have become are the Cape Town Tigers.

The South African champions finished 1-3 in the Kalahari Conference and could only make it to the Playoffs as one of the best third-placed teams from across the three conferences.

However, in the Quarterfinals, Flosh Ngwenya’s team stunned FUS Rabat, a team many dubbed as the strongest title contender.

BOTTOM LINE: The 2024 BAL Semifinals, Third-Place Game and Final will be contested by four teams that have tasted defeat at least three times each this season.